Friday, March 14, 2008

Top 100 of 2007 (11-20)

11. Talk To Me
Were there "better" films this year? Yes, absolutely. I even recognize the fact that it isn't without it's significant flaws. Yet, I've somehow managed to catch it several times since my initial viewing in theaters this summer, and you know what? It hold up extremely well, and it's extremely rewatchable, and in having seen it upon multiple viewings and still finding enjoyment, I've learned to let go of my critical quibbles and just embrace it. And a lot of that is because of the wonderful lead performances from Chiwetel Ejiofor, one of the most reliable actors who rarely gets his due, Don Cheadle, who manages to mix drama and comedy like he never has before, and from the phenomenal Taraji P. Henson who busts your gut with the comedy and breaks your heart with the drama without ever becoming a caricature. So, all the explanation this one needs is that it's one hell of an enjoyable movie.

12. Ratatouille
I'll admit to not always giving animated films their fair shake, but this was an absolute joy to watch. The animation is spectacular, the story was original and interesting, and perhaps it's simply the foodie and Francophile in me that loved the setting - A French restaurant. But, whatever the reason, I just enjoyed the hell out of myself.

13. Offside
Here is one of those great slice-of-life films about a culture that I will never come to understand through experience - only through film. This is the story of a group of girls who are caught when they dress up as boys to attend an Iranian soccer game as Iran is poised to enter the World Cup. Women are forbidden from attending sporting events in Iran, so they are forced to dress as boys to make it into the arena. The girls wait just outside of the arena in a holding pen as the guards reluctantly narrate the game for them. But this also serves as a fascinating microcosm to show Iranian views of women in the society at large as well.

I can think of few movies in my life where I have stayed so caught up in a film when I hated the main character. I felt no sympathy or empathy toward Christopher McCandless, yet, I've known people like him: self-righteous, above everyone and everything else, and clings steadfastly to this notion of noble idealism even at their own expense. And I really enjoyed his encounters with people along the way. I think what helped me get through it too was the stunning visuals and the excellent soundtrack from Eddie Vedder. At every turn when it was almost getting too tedious to bear, I'd see or hear something that would take me right back into the film. I wish I loved it as much as some others do, but this seems to be the right place for it for me.

For as long as I can remember, action movies have always been a dime a dozen. They're the same formulaic bullshit you've seen countless times before it. It has almost become a dead genre for me - if you water something down enough times, it just becomes water. So, it's so refreshing to me that The Bourne series, especially under Greengrass' direction, break that mold. They're fresh, their fun, and they're exciting. The thrills are earned genuinely. I'm not so sure about the recently greenlighted fourth installment, since The Bourne Ultimatum wrapped up the trilogy with a logical, satisfying ending. But with Greengrass involved, I'm willing to see what they'll do.

Admit it... when you hear "Lady Chatterley," your mind instantly conjures up images of late night, soft-core Skinemax movies, doesn't it? It certainly did for me. But I checked out the film anyway, despite the off-putting 2:45 running time. But you know what? It was actually pretty damn amazing, both in terms of direction and acting. Marina Hands is stunning in the title role, and you have to hand it to Pascale Ferran for making a film like this last for almost 3 hours and never making it feel like 3 hours.

This black-and-white biopic of the late Ian Curtis, the lead singer of Joy Division was an astonishing feat of firsts: Anton Corbijn, who directed his first feature film after ages of giving us so many essential music videos. Sam Riley in the title role nails the part so convincingly. And then add the always amazing Samantha Morton as Debra Curtis, the put upon young wife, and you have the best musical biopic in ages.

A fascinating documentary about the conflicting roles homosexuality and religion play in various peoples lives. You hear voices from all over the spectrum: gays and lesbians who've come out despite the heavy religious influence in their lives and found acceptance, and those who haven't. And in the case of one family, a mother who spurned her daughter over her religious beliefs, lost her daughter to suicide as a direct result of that rejection, questions her previously held beliefs and lives a life of shame and regret, and spends the rest of her days trying to atone for her actions. It's a really remarkable documentary.

Lasse Hallstrom hasn't made an interesting film in almost 15 years since becoming a whore for Miramax. Richard Gere is one of the most uninteresting actors ever to grace the screen. So how did THIS happen? if you've seen the Orson Welles film F For Fake, you'll have a passing familiarity of the story of Clifford Irving, who fakes his way into millions of dollars by claiming that he is writing the biography of the then-reclusive Howard Hughes with full cooperation from him. Of course, his whole story is complete bullshit, and the film is about how he orchestrated the whole thing. Trust me... I hate Richard Gere, and outside of What's Eating Gilbert Grape, Hallstrom hasn't directed an interesting film. Interesting how two negatives somehow equalled a positive in this case.

This one didn't get the best reviews, but it's kind of a shame. I found it fascinating. It's based on a Dutch film by Theo Van Gogh, who was set to direct the American adaptation (that was, of course, until he was murdered in broad daylight in Amsterdam by a Muslim extremist). Co-star Steve Buscemi took over the helm as the director, and the film came to light. It's a film about a journalist out of his environment, set to do a puff piece on a high profile, tabloid target actress. He views the assignment as beneath him, she instantly reads that. The two mix like oil and water. But through circumstance, they end up back at her apartment for a night of brutal revelations where we learn that he's not quite as superior as he likes to project, and she's not the dimwitted idiot she may be dismissed as. The big story here though is Sienna Miller. A tabloid target herself, she proves that she does have the acting chops. She's not Paris or Britney. She, like her character, is deceptively a hell of a lot better at her game than you'd be inclined to give her credit for.


toxiferous said...

This is a great list. :)

bradcar77 said...

Thanks! :)

I didn't think anyone would actually be reading this.